We’ve heard this screeching, or what I called squawking, in the mornings and evenings close to our house. It sounds like there are actually two birds. I looked up bird calls online. The closest sound I could find to what our birds were making was that of a barn owl that you can listen to here.
Up until this weekend, we were never able to see the creature that was making the racket. Then Sunday morning our daughter, who was visiting for the weekend, said that she and her friends saw its silhouette perched high in a tree when they returned to our house late Saturday night. Mark and I decided to sit outside Sunday at dusk and watch for it. We could hear it, but never saw it. (Video is 23 seconds.)
Then Monday, I got lucky. The owl was out in the daytime. I could hear it behind our house. When I stepped out onto the deck, it swooped down and flew along the creek bed at the base of our yard. I could only see the back of it, and still didn’t know what it was. I ran in the house and got my video camera, hoping to be able to catch it on film.
In the video, it is perched just to the left of the center. A large limb runs from the bottom to the top near the middle. A smaller limb behind it crosses on the diagonal. The owl is in the visual “V” made by the two limbs. If you watch closely, you can see it turn its head. About halfway through the movie, I zoom out, you will hear a door slam, and shortly afterwards, the owl turns around and flies away. You can see it more clearly if you go to full-screen. (The video is 1:43.)
I could distinctly hear not one, but two of these birds calling back and forth.
Here’s where the real wonder happened. I got my DSLR with its telephoto lens, and went outside to try to catch a still shot of the owl, hoping if I enlarged it on my computer screen I would be able to see it more clearly and identify it. As I was standing in the grass near my house, clicking away on my camera, the second bird landed on a branch within my camera viewfinder. I kept clicking. (Click on the photo to enlarge.)
Barn owls do not have little tufts on their heads. With the sound from the video, and the photograph, I think I got to the bottom of the owl’s identity last night. Visit this page, scroll down to the great horned owl, and listen to the nocturnal shriek of an owlet.
Two juvenile great horned owls. Who knew? We had heard the distinctive call of adult great horned owls in the past. So we know they’re in the area. They must have had babies. Pretty cool.
For more bird photos, see my bird page under the wildlife tab above.